This post gives Hardy Banana Plant Information including how to grow it, including winterization, and how to propagate this tropical looking plant.
The Hardy Banana (Musa basjoo) is also known as Japanese Banana, and Japanese Fibre Banana and provides a tropical look to any yard. It is native to southern China and is an herbaceous perennial in permaculture. I have found conflicting reports on line as to the exact hardiness of the plant. Some sources say down to zone 6A, others say down to zone 4.
Hardy Banana Plant Information
The plant grows up to 12-foot-tall and has leaves that grow to about 6-foot-long and about 18 inches wide. It produces both male and female flowers in the same cluster. It grows mini non-edible fruit. The fruit is only about two inches long.
I planted mine in 2002 in full sun and very sandy soil. I planted two of the hardy bananas in different areas and they have both done great. Each arrived in a four-inch pot. I put them in the ground, mulched them, and watered them for the first year. After that I have not done much with them. I have never fertilized them. You can see from the pictures here that they are quite large. They are looking a little ragged, but this picture was taken in late October after the oak leaves have already started to fall.
The bananas form a cluster. The first year I had the one plant in each spot. The second year I had about three plants sprout up around the first in each spot. Each subsequent year more bananas sprout up. I keep them in check just by mowing around the bananas. If any sprout up in the lawn outside of the mulch, the mower keeps them at bay.
Winterize – Hardy Banana Plant Information
For the first 10 years or so I winterized the bananas by putting a 4-foot high fence around them and then filled the fence with fallen oak leaves. This was easy as I had dozens of oak trees in the yard. When I did it this way, the stalks would usually survive up to about the 3-foot mark and would start growing from there. This gave the plants a definite boost in height earlier in the season.
I now just blow the leaves around the banana plants and cut down the stalks to about two foot and use the banana leaves to cover the leaves and prevent them from blowing away. Usually the stalks die back to the ground level doing it this way, but it takes less time than the old way because I don’t have to put the fence up every year. This year I surrounded one of the banana clusters with bags of leaves to build the leaves in the center of the cluster up higher. This is shown in the YouTube video below.
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In researching this variety of banana plant, it appears that the seeds are not viable and do not sprout. So propagation is done via cuttings. Online resources state that you take an entire sucker and plant it to form a new banana plant. This will work. But I have taken stalks from previous years and cut them to the ground. I put the old stalks in the back yard to rot and self compost and many of them rooted and formed new plants in this area. This is certainly something I will be experimenting with in the next year or two.
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